Couple searching for stuffed animal containing son’s ashes

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 1:59 PM CDT
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(WESH) - An Iowa couple vacationing at Walt Disney World lost a stuffed animal containing their son’s ashes.

Liz Atkinson said she was on a trip to Florida with her husband and son, Sebastyan, visiting the beaches and the theme parks, when somewhere along the way they lost the stuffed elephant named Bruce.

“I remember Sebastyan holding him, but my husband got off the boat with him first and he’s the one that buckled him,” Atkinson said. “Part of me just wonders, did it fall out in the parking lot, at the orange ramp at Disney Springs and we just didn’t know?”

The family had to return home but posted a plea on Facebook asking for the public’s help in finding Bruce, a task close to their hearts – not because of Bruce’s cute and cuddly appearance, but because of where he’s been and what’s inside him.

“If I had all the money in the world, I would give it to whoever found him, honestly,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson’s other son, Gabryel, passed away just days shy of his 8th birthday due to a number of medical issues.

His ashes were placed inside the stuffed animal, which the family took to Disney World in honor of him because he always wanted to go.

“Bruce has been at every hospitalization,” Atkinson said. “There’s far too many to count. He’s been with my son at every procedure. My son that’s surviving holds Bruce and cries when he’s missing his brother.”

Now, Atkinson said hundreds of people have messaged her offering to help find Bruce.

“People that don’t even know me have stepped up and said, ‘We’ll go look for you, we can’t imagine,’” Atkinson said. “And like I said, people have spent their whole days off just retracing my steps for me and talking to people, and just trying to get it out there, so hopefully, wherever he is, he gets back home.”